Advancing religious literacy

Joseph A. Bessler

Bessler-JosephRobert Travis Peake Professor of Theology
Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Joseph A. Bessler is Robert Travis Peake Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to his required theology courses, Bessler-Northcutt specializes in the interaction of religion and culture. He has recently chaired the Ethics, Society and Cultural Analysis section of the Southwest region of the American Academy of Religion and he is co-editor of a forthcoming book on Law and Religious Ethics. He offers a variety of courses on ethics and culture, theological themes in the contemporary American novel, theological autobiography, etc.

Academic Credentials

  • Ph.D., University of Chicago
  • M.T.S., Harvard University
  • B.S., Northwestern University

Special Study

  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universitat, Frankfurt am Main, 1983

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Theology, Phillips Theological Seminary, 2014–
  • Associate Professor of Theology, Phillips Theological Seminary, 1996–2014
  • Associate Dean, Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa Campus, 1994– 1997
  • Instructor, Christian Theology, Phillips Theological Seminary, 1992–1996

Professional Service

  • Chair of the Ethics, Society and Cultural Analysis section, American Academy of Religion, Southwest Region, 1999–2001


  • A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better, Polebridge, 2013
  • Law and Theology: Cases and Readings, edited with Martin Belsky, Carolina Academic Press, 2005
  • “The Ten Commandments: An Exercise in Liturgical Theology,” with Kay Bessler-Northcutt, a worship service in Celebrating Covenant: A Resource for Worship, Chalice Press, 2001
  • “Becoming Langdon Gilkey: The Theological Significance of Shantung Compound,” in The Theology of Langdon B. Gilkey: Systematic and Critical Studies, edited by Jeff Pool and Kyle A. Pasewark, 1999

Public Service

  • Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, board of directors, 1998–2001.
  • Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, Legislative Issues Taskforce, 1998–2000

Awards & Honors

  • Century Fellow, University of Chicago, 1986–1989